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Like many natural wonders, a beautiful night sky inspires and moves people, no matter what you do or where you live. For as long as there has been man, the night sky has been part of our shared human experience. However, star-filled night skies are not able to be seen everywhere, washed out by the glow of city lights.
International Dark Sky Week (April 14-20) serves not only to draw attention to the problems of light pollution, but also offers solutions and reasons to observe the night sky.
Artificial light shining up into the sky creates light pollution, and it does more than just dull the view for stargazers. Excessive and poorly directed lights are a tremendous waste of energy. They can create deep shadows that are unsafe for pedestrians, cause hatchling sea turtles to lose sight of the ocean, and confuse migrating birds causing them to fly into buildings. Light pollution has other far-reaching effects unknown to many who continue to use ineffective lighting and inadvertently add to light pollution in their communities. Although the problem is serious, the solution for many is as simple as changing bulb wattage, using motion sensors, or installing hoods over bare bulbs.
The reality is that most communities suffer from light pollution, but very few people are aware of what they are missing. International Dark Sky Week was created to raise awareness of the problem by giving people fun events to attend that get them out under the sky.
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A crystal clear air mass will bring splendid conditions for stargazers across the East Coast of the U.S. Look for the thin crescent moon near Venus this evening, then the Milky Way later at night.